A motorcycle represents freedom and a feeling of being alive. An opportunity to see more of world in its real form and a calculated risk that brings the present moment into focus.

A car can take you from point A to B, while a motorcycle enables you to explore, feel, experience, and enjoy the environment in its most raw form. There is no cage or window as a barrier to the outer world. You become part of it.

The deeper roots of why people ride means that there is also a riding culture of people that embrace each other, and silently nod to symbolize what they all share in common.

Getting Prepared

Gear

Motorcycle has a well-known acronym, ATGATT, which stands for All The Gear All The Time. It is a mantra that there is never a time when one should go without proper gear, even for short trips or extreme weather.

There are five main articles of gear needed for riding:

  • Helmet
  • Jacket
  • Pants
  • Boots
  • Gloves

To take the Basic RiderCourse, a DOT-approved helmet is provided. The other gear needs to brought to the course, so it is a viable initial step to become versed in gear and purchase an initial set.

Helmet

“In 2015 alone, motorcycle helmets saved an estimated 1,772 motorcyclist lives and an additional 740 lives could have been saved had the motorcyclist been wearing a helmet when they had an accident.”

According to a study published by Dietmar Otte, 45 percent of all impacts to motorcycle helmets occur around the face, in an area not covered by open-face or three-quarter-type helmets.

Types

The full face helmet offers the most coverage around your head and neck and is considered the safest type of motorcycle helmet to protect you from potential impact. A distinguishing feature of the full face helmet is the chin bar, which is a key safety feature that many helmets lack.

Safety

“Whenever you go out to get yourself a new helmet, always look for shell-built design.”

Helmet manufacturers have standards like the Snell Foundation requirements, DOT (Department of Transportation), and the current European Safety Standard 22/05 to meet to ensure a good quality product is released to the public.

If you want the best possible safety, we say opt for an ECE 22.05-rated helmet. Every single racer in MotoGP (the top level of motorcycle sport) chooses to wear an ECE-rated helmet, and they (the helmets, not the MotoGP riders) tend to be lighter than their Snell equivalent.

The Anatomy of a Motorcycle Helmet

Fit

Fit is essential to finding the best helmet for you. What needs to fit is the EPS liner, not the comfort liner. A rough measurement should be taken from above the eyebrows, around the head at the furthest point of the back of the head, and around. A helmet must always be tried on, and checked for fit. The chin strap should be tightened so that only two fingers will fit between the strap and the head. There should be no gaps at the top, front, back, or side of the head, although it should not be painfully tight. The helmet should be worn for a few minutes to gauge the fit. If you attempt to rotate the helmet, your cheeks should move. If the helmet moves or slips with rotation, or up and down, it is not a good fit. To test the chin strap, look down toward your chest, and see if the back of the helmet can be pushed upward.

Features

New features have been added to full face helmets in recent years, including Bluetooth capable speakers, high-visibility color options and designs, and visors that tint and adjust to sunlight conditions.

Maintenance

Helmets typically have a five-year life. After that, the glue and whatnot used to bond layers of the EPS impact absorption material (precisely tailored densities of Styrofoam) may begin to degrade, impacting safety.

Jacket

Motorcycle jackets can be broken down into four major categories: Cruiser, Racing, Sport/Street and Adventure Touring/Dual Sport.

Material

Leather is far and away the most common material used to construct cruiser jackets. That being said, synthetic textiles and cotton are growing in popularity. For more seasonal versatility, venting and removable liners are often included in sport bike jackets.

A jacket made with a top quality leather is your best option to provide protection from road rash. Where leather jackets don’t perform as well as textiles is when it is raining and when it is hot. Textile motorcycle jackets can be far more versatile than most leather jackets. Because textile fabrics are easier to work with, you will usually find far more features built into a textile motorcycle jacket.

Textile jackets can be made waterproof fairly easily, which is a huge advantage for riders who know they will encounter adverse weather. Textiles breathe very well and often have great ventilation, making them a preferred choice for many in warmer weather. Compared to leather, textile jackets are often much lighter in weight and are far more flexible.

High-quality textile materials like 1000 denier Cordura are able to resist abrasion as strongly as leather, while typically coming equipped with Gore-Tex or other water-resistant membranes capable of keeping you dry in bad weather.

Armor

D3o, Sas-Tec and Exo-Tec

In order to be effective, that armor should come with a CE safety rating. You want it in the elbows, shoulders, and back. Some jackets also fit chest protectors to protect your ribs, heart and lungs – again, look for that CE rating.

Venting

Look for exhaust vents in the back as well as intake vents in the front for the best results. The exhaust vents will help draw out the excess heat and moisture.

Pants

Like jackets, pants are available in leather or textile materials and should be equipped with CE-rated armor in the hips, shins, and knees. They should fit snugly, but be comfortable and allow full leg articulation. Try them on a bike, or stand in a riding position close to that of your own to determine if they’ll work.

Boots

In a riding boot, you want soles that prevent that twisting. Frequently, that’s accomplished with a metal plate running through the sole. Strong heel and toe boxes also help lock your feet in and reduce the force of impacts to those areas. Armor over the ankle and shin protects those areas.

Any boot considered for riding a motorcycle should lace tightly to a point above the ankle. Anything less and it will likely fly off in an accident, offering zero protection.

Gloves

Motorcycle gloves should fully cover your fingers, palm, the back of your hands and your wrists. There should be significant overlap between glove and jacket so that you never see any skin exposed between the two.

In order for a glove to remain on your hand in a crash, it needs a retention strap around the wrist. Consider this feature a minimum entry point for any riding glove. After that, you want to look for strong, abrasion-resistant materials and strong, protected stitching. Materials like Kevlar are often spec’d for the stitching for their ability to resist abrasion and bursting.

Last, but not least is armor. While most motorcycle gloves spec armor for the knuckles, it’s actually the base of your palm that will impact in nearly any crash and which needs protection the most. Look for materials here that will slide rather than catch on the pavement and that can provide some impact protection.

Additional

Long underwear is available in both summer and winter versions, the former working with your natural cooling process to better facilitate moisture wicking, keeping you cool and sweat-free. If you’re trying to stay warm, look for long underwear made with a wind-resistant membrane such as Gore Wind Stopper. You’ll be surprised at how many drafts get inside your gear in cold weather. Extend this protection to your feet, hands, and head and neck to reap its full benefits.

The inside of a motorcycle helmet can be as loud as a jet engine at highway speeds, so you’ll want to wear earplugs to maximize comfort and preserve your hearing over time.

Wearing sunglasses inside a helmet can be tricky, so a tinted visor is the best option. You’ll need one specifically designed to fit your helmet. Always carry a clear visor with you if there’s even a slight chance you’ll be out after dark.

Shops

Erico Motorsports

Ducati dealer downtown in RINo. Friendly staff upon entry, with a modest selection of gear at what seemed like affordable prices. They specialize in Triumph, Moto Guzzi, Ducati, and Vespa.

May be worth visiting again to pick up gear, and keep an eye on any used Ducati Monsters they may have, including the used 2016 model.

Vickery Motorsports

Limited pre-owned inventory, but do have Yamaha MT-07s and MT-09s.

Coyote Motorsports

Yamaha dealer 10 minutes north of Denver, but no discount like Vickery Motorsports. May be the right place to learn, test drive, and ask questions, though.

Grand Prix Motorsports

Yamaha and Zero bikes in Littleton, which is a bit further than other shops but not too far or unreasonable. May be the place to go to test ride a Zero. Pre-owned inventory does not appear to have any viable options.

G-Force Powersports

10 minutes west of Denver. Has at least one KTM Duke bike.

Motorado

Does not seem to have a great selection of bikes, as nothing I am interested in was available.

Fay Myers Motorcycle World

Located in Greenwood Village, which is a bit further away than Littleton, and east of Littleton.

Imperial Sportsbikes

Appears to be an Aprilia dealer.

Elite KTM

https://www.elitektm.com/default.asp?condition=pre-owned&make=ktm&page=inventory&pg=1

Sun Enterprises – https://www.sunent.com/used-atvs-utvs-motorcycles-for-sale-denver-colorado–xPreOwnedInventory#page=xPreOwnedInventory&make=other

Peak Honda World – https://www.peakhondaworld.com/default.asp?page=inventory&condition=pre-owned

Getting Endorsed

Getting Experienced

Before buying a bike, it is recommended to test ride many different types that may be of interest. This allows you to get a feel for various types of bikes, including your comfort on it, and that undefinable “gut” feel of what bike fits your personality and your needs best.

One way to take this to the next level is to rent other people’s bikes for a few days. This is possible through a marketplace at https://www.twistedroad.com/about-us. For anywhere from $50-150/day (for most), you can give someone’s bike a go.

Past this, there are options for buying a bike. You can go through the dealership, private seller, or salvage auction routes mainly. For someone experienced with bikes, or has a friend that can tag along, the private seller route may work, especially if you’re in the market for a used bike. The main thing is knowing what to look for when inspecting the bike.

A dealership helps in reassuring you that the bike is properly vetted (still an assumption that is good not to be totally naive about), and also a place to go to talk about or even service the bike. So it helps that you would have bought from them and can start that relationship up front.